Friday, February 20, 2004

Jan. 2, about 4:30 a.m.

Why I am awake now, I don't know. Earlier, perhaps, I could blame it on the roosters, but I think they stopped. So has sleep for me, evidently.

Things are a little wild! Andy [Malaysian guy from the hotel/flight] convinced me that since Winnie's address was in the same area as his family's house, I should just go to his house with his family. This has turned out pretty well, although I'm not sure how much of a burden it is on the family. I felt like an invader, though they were welcoming. His mother, father, grandfather, a brother and sister, and several young female cousins met him at the airport and went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner.

It was loud, busy, and slow, but good. Many dishes were passed around the table, although Andy had them bring me a larger plate, fork and spoon. They stripped me of my chance to prove my mettle with the chopsticks. I think I was the only non-Chinese in the whole place--probably the first time I've felt truly foreign. Seems fitting.

Last night was also the first time in months I ate meat on purpose. It felt a little strange, but I had no adverse reactions. I wasn't about to go against my fundamental travel edict: try (almost) everything.

I don't quite have the ear for English-Malay accents yet. Andy's little cousins and brother would talk to me and I could hardly understand. It was so fast.

Andy put me up in the guest room once we arrived at the house. Again, I have no idea hwo his parents feel about this. Around 11:30, I finally got through to Winnie, but she and Meesh wouldn't be back in KL until around 1. I was so exhausted I figured I'd be asleep--turns out I wasn't--and I didn't want to disturb his family in the middle of the night. So we're going to meet at 8 this morning. I said I'd walk up the street but then Andy said he'd give me a ride (after I got off the phone, of course). So we'll see.

It's so different already. There's no mistaking my location far away from home. It's beautiful and terrifying and I need to call my mom. She's got to be worried.

And I have to pee again. All this tea, straight to my bladder.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Happy New Year

First entry of many to be ripped from the pages of my travel diary

Last year for New Year's Eve, Kevin and I had dinner at his house and fell asleep early, too early to fulfill our plans of, ah, fulfillment. This year yielded a similar sleepiness.

After arriving at the hotel, I fell asleep within the hour. I saw a few wacky Japanese shows and commercials before giving up.

Customs and immigration was no big deal at all. I showed my passport and they looked at the little form and I was gone. I didn't really have anything to declare--probably the most valuable item I brought was my CD book. There are 24 CDs in there that'd do all right on the used CD market, although without cases... Anyway. I still doubt it's over the 200,000 yen limit or whatever.

I met a guy on the shuttle bus also staying at the Holiday Inn, also booked for my flight to KL tomorrow, and also at least as bewildered by the whole experience as me. He is Malaysian, but going to school in Pennsylvania. He doesn't like the snow. We're meeting up to catch another shuttle back to the airport in the morning.

I got here far too late or any exploration of Narita or even the airport. I was exhausted. I crashed, on the hardest mattress I've ever slept on, wearing the hotel-provided kimono/robe thing. It's a logo product. I'm just glad to be out of the clothes I was wearing.

Also, I stunk. I felt bad for the Chinese woman on the plane next to me. She was going to visit Beijing and Shanghai for the first time since she left seven years ago. She's been working in computers in San Francisco for a few months, but first lived in Vancouver, where her parents still live.

I don't think I'm really in Japan. Someone trying to make me believe so would need a much more elaborate ruse than this Holiday Inn, exactly like the others but with more characters.

OK, certain things are odd. Like the hot water thing. It eluded me at first, especially with the Zojirushi branding. In the state, Zojirushi only sells rice cookers. Here, apparently, they do everything. And there is always green tea. And the only coffee is INSTANT. Ew. Maybe I'll bring a packet of that back to my boss for a laugh. Maybe I'll have to try some myself. But probably it sucks. Instant coffee crystals are Bad News Bears.

Did I mention how much green tea they served on the plane?

I hope my stupid phone card calls weren't long distance. It costs a lot more to call to the US than it does to call from it, apparently. Or my card just has shitty rates for Japan.

I've slept nine hours. That's fantastic. Now I just have to figure out how the hell to adjust to Malaysian time, or at least Winnie and Meesh's time -- or as Kevin accidentally called them, Minnie and Weesh.

Sipping green tea now. What to do, what to do... repack bags for maximum usefulness in case I have to check my larger pack again? Read the new issue of Mother Jones? Watch more TV I can't understand? See if there's a net cafe I can use?

We'll see.

Monday, February 16, 2004

It Ends Now

My seventeen-year silence, I mean. Or however long it's been since I last did this.

I've been home about three weeks now. The laundry is tumbling in the dryer, Chris is yelling at his parents on the phone, Steph is away, and Kevin is sleeping. So everything's more or less business as usual. Except I have no job, and thanks to the conjoined powers of no real schedule and jetlag, I've lost my internal alarm clock that kept me in bed from midnight to 8 a.m.

I don't like it. I don't like it one bit.

But I am looking. I have a month and a half to kill before school starts back up, and it would be handy to have some income so I can, you know, buy groceries and not sit around like a lump all the time. I'm looking. It's depressing, but I'm looking.

And if all else fails, I can work my old job spring quarter. Then graduate and have to find a job all over again, but I might have to do that anyway. Hooray.

It's a little late in coming, but I should talk about my trip, in all its wonderfulness. Honestly, though, it feels so long ago that I'm not sure I can do it justice. So I've decided to pull out the ol' journal and post snippets.

Along with the photo gallery, it'll be just like you were there.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Pictures FINALLY Up

Hi guys! I will write a proper entry soon, which is sad since I've been home a week already, but I finally got a photo gallery of my trip up and running. Commenting should be available, and I will be adding proper titles and captions over the next couple days, as well as making it look better overall. Or so I plan. Anyway, enjoy the pictures.